Angel and I walked ahead of the wolves. I was doing my best not to limp but, the more we walked, the harder it became. Angel looped her arm through mine to give me extra support. People in the town stood to the side, watching with wide eyes and open mouths. It would be hard explaining this to them. Tiberius kept looking over his shoulder in mistrust.
"Keep that up and you'll fall on your face," I said quietly with a smirk. "Calm yourself, Tiberius. If they break the blood pact, they will die."
"Yes, sir," he said and continued to face forward though he still looked nervous.
It took us nearly half an hour to get to the farmlands. We passed by the pumpkins and I heard murmurs of interest behind me. There were at least 250 acres of land and I turned.
"Would you like me to lift you so they can see you, my alpha?" Adam asked.
I looked around and found a high piece of ground. I shook my head and he bowed as I went to the ground. All the wolves assembled around me.
"This will be your home," I said loudly. "You are close enough to interact with the others for those that wish to. For those who don't, you can build your homes in the back part of the land. There is more than enough land, as well, to farm should you choose. Keep in mind that, if you want to trade in the marketplace, you must have either a coin or a suitable item to trade." I turned to Adam. "What do you use for your homes?"
"It depends on the terrain around us. If you have wood to spare, we can build our homes from that."
I nodded. "We can make that possible."
"There is one more thing," Adam said. "Who have you chosen as your beta?"
I cleared my throat loudly so they turned their attention to me. They weren't going to like this.
"Just as I have spared William's life, I have chosen him as my beta." I waited for the surprised and angry muttering to die. "He is not a traitor. You will not treat him like he is. You are to welcome him back into the community. If any problems arise, I will hear about them and I will know who caused them. Have I made myself clear?"
"Yes, my alpha," they said in unison.
I turned to William who looked just as surprised as everyone else. I smiled and put my hand on his shoulder.
"You deserve to live among your people again," I said in an undertone. For some reason, he glanced at the castle with a sad look. It lasted for just half a second, though. "I want you to bring me reports about how things are going out there every other day. You can write them or deliver them in person. You are also in charge of overseeing the building of homes. I have... unpleasant business to take care of at the castle."
"What kind?" he asked and I glanced over at the village. "Ah. Good luck with that."
I chuckled. "Good luck, William."
He did the salute and I returned it, unable to bow though. I turned to Angel.
"Let's go back to the castle. We need to arrange a meeting with the village."
She chuckled. "Yes, this will be our next major hurdle."
I've seen the villagers angry before. On the years where crops were destroyed, many fights broke out. From what I heard, when I was chosen, many fathers fought with their sons. Other fights would break out over the years.
Nothing held a candle to the angry faces I had looking at me now.
Every villager was gathered in the ballroom. It was a tight fit but the best place for us to meet. The wind had picked up and I had to be sure that everyone heard what I had to say.
I cleared my throat and the village people stopped talking among themselves.
"I know many of you are concerned about our new neighbors," I began.
"That's an understatement!" someone yelled. "Those are werewolves, David!"
I recognized the voice of the butcher, Graham. People echoed him.
"Please allow me to finish," I called over the noise and they stopped. "Several months ago, I journeyed to the north. Our kingdom was threatened by a clan of werewolves. I was given very few options. I chose to conquer their alpha and beta. I didn't know at the time, though, that by doing so I became their new alpha."
Cries of outrage followed his statement and I sighed wearily. Would they rather I had let them die? I waited for silence to fall again.
"I faced two more options: accept the new role or let them roam freely. If I had let them roam on their own, we would be put at much risk. They would be free to feed on whoever they wished. That includes you." I let those words sink in and a few people shifted. "By becoming their alpha, I achieved several things. The most important, though, to me and to my family, is that they are our allies now. They will not touch your homes or your families. If they do, they will fall to my Sword."
"You are not our king!" another person yelled. I didn't recognize their voice. "Who are you to make this decision!?"
Angel jumped to her feet, anger etched on her face.
"Step forward!" she yelled. No one moved. "Whoever spoke, step forward now!" Slowly, a young woman made her way to the front. "What is your name?"
"Ingrid Decour," she said in a strong voice and I frowned.
"Ingrid Decour, the fiancee of Hugo?" I asked and she nodded, blushing.
Hugo was fighting his way forward, too. "Ingrid! Ingrid, what are you doing?"
"He is not our king, Hugo!" she said defiantly.
Before Angel could speak again, King Roland stood. Ingrid went pale.
"But I am," he said coldly. "I stand by Prince David's decision. He is your Prince, Miss Decour, and should be treated with that respect."
"He wasn't a few months ago when he went to the north and put our lives at risk!"
"Ingrid, stop it!" Hugo said, pulling on her arm. "This is treason what you're doing!"
"No one wants you to be king!" she yelled. "You're a cripple!"
Her words seemed to echo and I gripped my cane, pressing my lips together tightly.
"Send her to the throne room," I said coldly and Tiberius took her elbow. "Hugo, join her." I waited until they were gone before turning back to the rest of the village people. "This is not just my decision. I made this decision with Princess Angel, King Roland, and Queen Miranda. We came to an agreement. Regardless of what Miss Decour thinks, we took your lives and what you would feel into consideration. If there had been any other way, we would have taken it. Does anyone have any objections that can be spoken of in a respectable manner?" No one answered. "Very well. You may return to your homes."
I waited until everyone was out before heading to the throne room, holding Angel's hand. She was shaking with anger. I was furious, too, but I reminded myself to remain calm. I had my father's temper and I couldn't let it get the best of me. What Hugo said is true, though: Ingrid was on the verge of treason.
As Angel and her parents at at their thrones, I stood in front of mine, staring coldly at Ingrid. Hugo stood beside her, his head bowed in respect. She was glaring openly at me.
"Miss Decour, I demand an explanation," I said quietly and she flushed.
"There is no explanation to give," she said haughtily. "I'm sure you got the message unless you're as stupid as your father said you were."
Angel jumped to her feet again but I shook my head at her. She sat back down, still glaring at Ingrid. Hugo groaned and covered his face.
"I could very well have you jailed for speaking to me like this," I said, staring directly into her eyes. They flickered in fear. "I have too much respect for your fiance to do so, though. He is my friend. But your words will not go unpunished." Hugo looked up, his face pale. "You live with your mother, am I correct?" She nodded. "At the end of the village is a home. Beside it, a potato patch. You are to live there until your marriage with Hugo."
Her jaw dropped. "What!? I can't live as a-a poor woman!"
"Yes, you can," King Roland said and she blanched. "They way you speak does not fit a woman of your station."
She burst into tears and ran out. Hugo lingered.
"I am sorry for the way she spoke to you," he said quietly. "Thank you for not jailing her.
"I only did it because she is your love," I said. "Make it clear to her, though, that if she continues like that, she will be jailed next time."
He bowed and hurried after his fiancee. Before anyone could stop me, I left, Ingrid's words echoing in my ears.
"No one wants you to be king! You're a cripple!"